By The Numbers: The NBA's Best Backcourt Duos
Over the past year or so, there has been a lot of talk about who is the best backcourt in the NBA.
So, which team has the rightful claim to the title, "Best Backcourt in the NBA"?
Is it Wall and the Wizards? Is it the Warriors' electric Splash Brothers? Or is it from another team entirely?
Instead of allowing biased opinions or past laurels to decide, I'm here to let the numbers do just that.
Advanced analytics -- including our very own nERD metric -- provide us with a clear winner as well as those who belong among the elite guard combos in the league.
Without further ado, let's break it down, starting with three and ending with the single best backcourt in the NBA.
3. Chris Paul & J.J. Redick - Los Angeles Clippers
If you caught any of the Clipper game Monday night, you know that this combination can be one of the deadliest in the NBA. J.J. Redick lit up the Rockets for a career-high 40 points on 11 of 19 shooting and a scorching 9 of 12 from three-point land. But Redick's big night wasn't just a flash in the pan.
On the season, Redick is second in True Shooting Percentage (65.5%), behind only Stephen Curry, and first in three-point percentage (50%) despite hoisting 206 attempts from beyond so far this season. He's been an excellent wingman for the dime-dishing Chris Paul.
Paul leads the league with an Assist Percentage of 49.7% and ranks fourth among all players with 9.6 assists per game, so it comes as no surprise that Mr. Redick does so much of his damage on the catch and shoot. According to NBA.com, Redick is shooting 52.2% from three with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 76.1% on catch-and-shoot opportunities this year.
This beautiful combination of elite passing and elite shooting is what makes them the third best backcourt in the NBA. Their combined nERD of 17.1 is third in the league as is their Player Efficiency Rating of 43.3. Where they lack in Defensive Rating (combined 213 points allowed per 100 possessions) -- mostly due to Redick and his 110 rating -- they make up for it with offensive firepower to the tune of 238 points scored per 100 possessions -- the highest of all starting duos.
2. Kyle Lowry & DeMar DeRozan - Toronto Raptors
In their last time out, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan showed us exactly what they've been doing all season: carrying the Toronto Raptors. Against Brooklyn on Monday, the two should-be All-Stars combined for 61 points (on nearly 58% shooting from the floor), 13 assists and 5 steals. That's just another day at the office for these two though.
On the season, the two average a combined 43.8 points, 10.5 assists, 9.7 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game. To say they are the heart and soul of this Raptors team would be a severe understatement. They make up 43.5% of their team's points, 57.4% of their team's assists and 39% of their team's total steals. They're the only two players on the team to average more than 12 points per game and are the only two to average double figures while playing in all 41 games.
As you can see, not only do they do it all, but these two are also iron men and play in every game that comes down the schedule. Why? Because they pretty much have to. Both DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas have struggled to stay healthy all year, missing a combined 35 games on the year. As I alluded to earlier, that's 23.7 points a game missing on a nightly basis. How would they fare without their starting backcourt?
Well, courtesy of NBAWowy.com, with both on the floor this season the Raptors average 1.095 points per possession. Without either of them on the floor the Raptors are lost, averaging 0.967 points per possession. Taken over 100 possessions that's a difference of nearly 13 points. They're two of the best in the league at what they do together on the floor, as evidenced by their combined nERD of 19.7 and combined Win Share total of 11.6, which are both second to none other than the top backcourt team in the league.
1. Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson - Golden State Warriors
And that leads us to the top dogs. The reigning MVP and his Brother of Splash, Klay Thompson, are leaps and bounds beyond any other guard combination in the Association. Their combined average of 50.6 points per game is nearly seven points superior to the next closest duo, and when taken to a per-36 average, the two average 54.5 points -- over 11 points more than the Lowry/DeRozan backcourt.
That is just one way to say that they're on another level. Another way is to tell you that you never know if one of them is just going to go completely bonkers on any given night. The two have combined for 25 games of 30 points or more and 8 games of 40 points or more. And if those numbers don't scare you, it's really how they do it on a nightly basis that will scare you.
On a per game basis, Curry and Thompson shoot a combined 17.5 of 35.7 (49%) from the field, including 8 for 18.1 (44.2%) from three. They are 2nd (Curry) and 10th (Thompson) in the league in Effective Field Goal Percentage, and first and 18th in the league in terms of True Shooting Percentage. Despite the high volume, they are efficient scoring machines. However, they also get it done on the defensive end of the floor with 3.2 Defensive Win Shares between the two of them.
Their blend of elite scoring and solid defense has given them a combined nERD of 31.7 -- 12 points higher than that of Toronto's own dynamic duo. They also own the highest combined Player Efficiency Rating (49.9), Win Shares per 48 (.480), Win Shares (13.5) and Net Rating (+30) among all starting guards.
So, to put this baby to rest, Wall and Beal aren't even in the top five, and for many reasons -- including the health of Bradley Beal. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson make up the best backcourt in the NBA, without a doubt. And if you've seen them play you know that the numbers do not lie.